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I've recently been thinking on how our human definition of intelligence might relate to holographic principles, particularly in regards to information theory.

We are small creatures, but our networks -- our brains and societies -- represent the most complex information-encoding geometries we've yet seen in the universe.

And I see the way that our curiosity reaches upward in scale, documenting the far corners and folds of the universe; and deeper, interrogating the tiny subatomic spaces; and forward and back, building models of the future and past of this point in time.

And we capture this knowledge and bring it into our tiny space, information encoded in structures along the skin of this rock floating in space.

And I wonder if that's not holographic in some way: That insatiable drive to compress information from massive scales of space and time into the tiniest of spaces...

But of course, this is just armchair philosophizing ;)




Haha, beautifully put, but I often wonder the opposite. What if our capacity to perceive and think is so limited and narrow that most of the underlying workings of reality are completely missed by us? The what if being, we are not so special as we think. The way an ant colony will bustle full of self-import and purpose, blissfully unaware of the giant people passing by. And the people pay it no mind, because they can't interact meaningfully with the ant colony, so while one is aware of the other and far more about the world, the reverse isn't true.


Mix those thoughts with a healthy does of "human values don't necessarily have any relation to alien values, which may be just as incomprehensible to humanity as the true nature of the universe" and you've basically got the Cosmic Horror fiction genre.


and here I was trying to avoid an existential crisis today. There that goes.


Could be a dimensional thing too, what if you're like an exhibit in someone's living room like a hologram and you just live your life for someone's amusement. You'd never know but can you prove that it's happening?


Reminds me of The Thirteenth Floor.


Oh I like that movie, man haven't seen that in a while. I don't know, what makes something "real" or "more genuine"? I heard this podcast that mentioned this same concept regarding your brain acting like a computer perceiving sound as binary input through the little hairs in your ears... I don't know. What's real is this fear I feel from debt collectors haha.


That sounds a little like "The Principle of Mediocrity" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediocrity_principle)

If so, think you're selling humans a bit short. Our capacity isn't really all that limited. As long as we are able to continuously apply new information to gain better insights into reality, we will improve. Maybe we are woefully behind other some other beings out there, but that doesn't mean we'll never get there. Our capacity for exceeding our physical limitations (ex, we can detect neutrinos despite having no ways to see them through evolutionary abilities) and create new physical realities (the coldest known temperature measured is not somewhere else in the universe, it's in a physicist's lab) shows that we are still on a path towards understanding so much more than we do today.


I think that the information-mania you describe is a quirk of a certain personality type, not a basic human phenomenon. Information is certainly important to humans, but this omnivorous "insatiable drive" is not, I think, foundationally human, nor universal, nor even necessarily entirely present in the personality type that believes it posses such a drive.


I dunno. Every time I talk to a child, an "insatiable drive" for information is exactly how I would describe their state of being. Picking up speech, social norms, fine motor control, reading, writing, learning to identify physical danger and risk, and even the speed and fluidity I see when children learn to use technology (especially compared to some adults) makes me think that insatiable information gathering (and trying to apply that information and get new pieces) is extremely foundational. The drive and necessity to do so doesn't necessarily remain as intense as we mature, but that doesn't mean the capacity to do so isn't still there for folks who wish to apply it.


Unfortunately more true than I wish it were.


The conceit that the obsessive pursuit of information is necessarily a good is also a quirk of that personality type.


Why is it conceited to say that the a culture of relentless information pursuit has been an objectively good thing for humanity?

I guess I'm not sure what "obsessive pursuit of information" means in this case. Is it continuing to seek better explanations even when current ones serve a purpose adequately (ie, the principle of fallibility)? Is it that once new explanations are available people we seek to apply those explanations to other domains and create further information?

I'd argue that both of those examples are positive practices that have resulted in better quality information and expanded valuable applications of that information.

I cannot see the progress that humans have made since the scientific revolution and write those improvements off as non-objectively positive things. Earth is not naturally hospitable to our form of life, and our ancestors suffered through extremely short, brutal, and unpleasant lives due to that. It is only through the pursuit of information (obsessive pursuit even, in the sense that we needed a large amount of information that is both reliable and expandable to apply meaningfully) that most humans live lives where we don't die from things like starvation, exposure to the elements, treatable diseases and so forth. New problems have certainly been introduced by the application of gained knowledge, but those problems will never be solved by not pursuing more (and better) answers.

Less information is never better than more information, and societies which advocate most liberally for the pursuit of information have reliably produced better conditions for their people than those which do not.


I'm not so sure that our human brains and human societies are the most complex information encoding geometries in the 'verse. The brain of an elephant's trunk motor control cortex is pretty amazing, and they have a very complicated social system too. Ants also outweigh humans in terms of total biomass, let alone number of ants, and their eusocial system of 'governance' inside of a colony and between colonies is barely grasped as it stands. Do these creatures have a sense of 'curiosity'? Elephants are really close to maybe having it, but as for ants? Who can tell? Does that mean that they cannot build models of the future too, perhaps in ways we will not understand for millennia?

I think it's just evolution, nothing more, but that is not to say that evolution as a very simple principle has not made astounding 'discoveries'. We evolve, elephants evolve, ants evolve, and in that bloody and hungry process, beautiful things of incredible complexity emerge all over the globe.


If you haven't read it already, I suspect you would greatly enjoy "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch (a quantum computation-focused physicist). It's a surprisingly optimistic take humanity's nearly-unlimited potential (or so he posits) for discovery and creation, and a great companion for any armchair philosophizer.

I suspect that many of the replies to this comment who cynically cite variations of "the principle of mediocrity" would also do well to read it.

He makes the point that the single coldest place in the known universe is not anywhere in the depths of space (which is gets down to about 3 kelvin), it's in a lab designed by humans and used for quantum mechanics research (200 nano kelvin).

Our capacity for information gathering and creativity has allowed us to create physical realities that cannot otherwise exist outside the influence of intelligent beings. Incredible to think about.


> And we capture this knowledge and bring it into our tiny space, information encoded in structures along the skin of this rock floating in space.

Hey, this is imaginative, even if it's armchair philosophy. Seems like you are thinking that the holography principle is self-similar at many scales.


Your talking poetically, or metaphorically, not scientifically I assume?


I'd say philosophically, which is the root of science. The observation, while perhaps may not be provable, makes perfect sense to start a series of long and interesting discussions.


At one time yes, but present day most don't consider philosophy a science. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/philosophy-...




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